2.5* REVIEW Grease UK Tour 2019 Starring Peter Andre

REVIEW Grease UK Tour 2019 Starring Peter Andre…

“It’s Electrifying” – sorry I thought it was unedifying…

Following a highly acclaimed sold out 8-week run at Curve, the first new ‘re-imagined’ (no pink allowed) production in 25 years of Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey’s iconic musical GREASE is back on tour.

Firstly, I’m fully aware that this review is totally irrelevant as this show will be a hit regardless of any reviewers opinion. However, I left the Leeds Grand tonight feeling grubby and disappointed.

Don’t read! Watch our HD VIDEO REVIEW via YouTube:

Here’s my review in a nutshell…

2.5* show – 1* indefensible stunt casting –  1* worthy re-writing of a camp classic – 5* ensemble energy and precision for the dance numbers – 5* Lighting & Choreography. Shoot the sound engineers…

Grease 2019 is beautifully directed by Nikolai Foster and has sensational choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

Unfortunately though the sound is at times inaudible, the dialogue is confusing….and that’s when the mics were working.

This entire show has lost its sexiness, naughtiness, fun and heart. I was truly bored in places…especially in Act 1. What happened to the joy??? How could they make this ‘credible’ by removing the sass and swagger. I find this production astonishingly ludicrous.

GIVE THE PUBLIC WHAT THEY WANT! In the case of Grease – nob gags and escapism. This ain’t Shakespeare for the love of God!

Equally there are five mind-blowingly brilliant, 5*, world class dance numbers that are worth the ticket price alone. I just wish I could have seen them in succession and been in the pub by 8pm.

The cast try their best to resuscitate this corpse from the hit it used to be, but it’s just exhausting at times. It’s just too deep for Grease.

Curiously in the 50’s when this was staged, shows got cheap laughs from fatties, gays, women & ugly people. Clearly in Leeds nothing has changed! Know your audience – these were the only cringe titters and clearly what they were waiting for!

I can’t imagine what the Guardian would make of this unashamedly outdated script in 2019. If you’re gonna do it – JUST DO IT! It’s like dressing a drag queen in dungarees. Madness.

Here’s my MAJOR problem…

The ‘star’ of this show is a laughable insult to the credibility of the production, musical theatre and show business. Teen Angel is one song, less than 4 minutes nearly two hours into the show.

When the ‘star’  can’t cope with this demand the whole game is fucked in my opinion. It was painful.

Despite being billed as the ‘star’, Peter Andre will appear at “certain” performances in Leeds, Southend, Sunderland, Birmingham, Leicester, Dublin, Oxford and Bromley.

Here’s Pete telling us more about why he’s too busy to commit to do the show 8 times a week…

In Leeds he will honour the theatre with 10 out of the 39 performances. I’m calling bullshit. Therefore he’ll sing for less than 40 minutes in a months run in West Yorkshire. The producers should be ashamed!

It’s also curious that Ore Oduba is doing three times more shows than Peter (in Leeds) but the media were invited when Peter was performing – a bigger star and box office hit. Cynical at best.

I’m sure no other reviewer will point any of this out and the show will continue to thrive off a star who will mostly not be appearing. Isn’t that a gag from Spamalot?! This doesn’t sit well with me. In fact it stinks.

For the record I actually really like Peter as a guest, presenter and TV personality…just not in this!

Just wait for the social media backlash. This ain’t 1980 when you quietly get away with this classless nonsense. I’m furious on the punters behalf. Just wait…

At best Andre’s appointment is stunt casting, at worst it is misleading the public and duping the audience into buying a ticket to see a star who most probably will not appear. (For avoidance of doubt the theatre reassure me it is made PERFECTLY clear when Peter is and isn’t appearing when you book).

He doesn’t even take his top off and sing Mysterious Girl. What a waste of his talent.

Let me be clear. I started promoting this tour in September 2018 and the ONLY image we (the media) were sent was of Peter Andre. His alternate Ore Oduba was not announced until May 2019.  The small print is of no interest to me – it’s simply cheating.

This poster below  (Tweeted 19/6/2019 by their official account) makes no attempt to expose the reality of Andre’s busy schedule. He told me earlier this month “I’m too busy to play Danny Zuko but the producers let me fly in and out when I’m available as Teen Angel”.

I don’t blame him for taking the gig but I do blame the producers and theatres for booking him. Honestly, he’s useless in comparison to this brilliant, talented, disciplined & dedicated young cast. The irony that he’ll probably be paid more for 4 minutes than they’ll get for a month.

This current poster is a sickening manipulation of public trust.

We spoke to Peter this summer about his life and career. Listen here…

Enjoy an exclusive interview with Peter via YouTube talking about Grease:

Ok, on to the true talents and drive of this production..

The show stars Dan Partridge as Danny who comes alive in Act 2 vocally. He’s quite remarkable. In my view he’s hasn’t got the genuine charisma or swagger to own this entire show (which he probably should) but he’s certainly not a disappointment. He’s obviously delicious and delivers 5* guns 8 times a week to tease the adoring lady type 40 something crowd.

Here’s the predictable ‘stand up mega mix’…

Martha Kirby as Sandy is terrific. What a voice! She’s got the perfect mix of innocence and vulnerability but a vocal beauty of a mega-star. As good as musical theatre gets. Perfect casting.

Most impressive in Act 1 was Louis Gaunt as Kenickie who stole the show with a magical Grease Lightning. This guy could be Danny. He’s got such magnetic presence and was a joy to watch.

Finally, Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky as Rizzo was magnificent in Act 2 and sets the bar for musical theatre in 2019.

All of these principle cast should be proud of what they bring to the show.

I wanted to love this show. It was one of the first musicals I saw as a kid, with Shane Richie. His pure natural energy, cheekiness and brilliance shone from the second the curtain went up. There was none of that tonight.

If felt like Grease had been on a BBC health and safety course and had the life sucked out of it.

Ironically despite the script falling flat, there are some of the most vibrant pieces of choreography and lighting in musical history. I could have jumped out of my seat with pride for the cast. The precision was astounding!

I can’t believe how depressing the set and incessant, pointless, relentless and mostly inaudible dialogue became in Act 1. I couldn’t wait to go to the pussy wagon for a vodka and diet.

Clearly there were major sound issues tonight, that happens, but, the diction of some of the cast was hideous at times. They’ve gotta sort this out! Come on guys it’s 2019 and £50 a ticket!

I’m heartbroken I didn’t love this. The dance numbers were magical and the 8 piece live band were truly terrific.

I don’t know how this theatrical gold has became worthy, depressing and laborious. There were barely any titters around me tonight – not one belly laugh. The fact there was not a standing ovation at press night says it all.

Oh, and before the smart arses write in – “get on your feet for the mega-mix” does not count as a standing ovation….no matter how this may appear during further well crafted Tweets.

I hate 2019.

The tour will open at Leeds Grand Theatre from 19 June – 20 July, making it the longest-running visiting production in the theatre’s history.

GREASE will then play:

Cliffs Pavilion, Southend 23 – 27 July
Sunderland Empire 30 July – 3 August
Birmingham Hippodrome 13 – 24 August
King’s Theatre Glasgow from 27 – 31 August

Curve, Leicester from 3 – 14 September
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre 17 – 28 September
New Theatre, Oxford from 1 – 5 October
Churchill Theatre Bromley 8 – 12 October.

Review by Alex Belfield for Celebrity Radio 27th June 2019.